What duty does an attorney owe to a prospective client?

You may often hear attorneys in El Segundo offering a free legal consultation. You might certainly be interested in such a service if you have a matter for which you are unsure on how to proceed legally or over which you may need legal representation. The opportunity to sit down with a lawyer and get advice without being obliged to pay or commit to utilizing their services may seem tempting. Yet one thing may be holding you back from accepting such an offer: your hesitancy to divulge all of the details of your case. 

This reluctance is understandable, yet in order for an attorney to truly understand whether or not they may be able to assist you, you will need to give them certain details. Fortunately, you can rest assured in knowing that even in a consultation, the information you share is protected. 

Per Rule 1.18 of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney cannot share information given to them by a prospective client. This is true if even after sharing such information, you elect not to retain an attorney’s services. Yet after sharing information with an attorney, the decision on whether or not to work them ultimately might not be yours. 

If you provide an attorney with information that may adversely affect the interests of a client that they are already representing, that attorney is disqualified from representing you. Not only that, but any member of the attorney’s firm is also barred from working with you. The only exception to this rule would be if you and the affected client agreed to having the attorney work with you, or the attorney took measures to ensure that any adverse information that was shared was only enough to determine the viability in representing you